Parliament rejects budget reports

By Billy Ntaote & Sentle Rathebe

MASERU — Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on the Social Cluster has thrown out budget reports from two ministries citing irregularities in their preparation and presentation.

The committee’s chairperson, Tšoanelo Ramakeoana, on Monday told the Lesotho Times the reports by the ministries of Social Development and Education which were submitted last Thursday and on Monday this week respectively, had so many flaws hence their rejection.

Ramakeoana said: “For the Ministry of Education, the report in question was for the second and third quarter of 2013, while for Social Development, it was for the second quarter of the same year. We had to return the reports to their respective ministries for reworking.”

According to Ramakeoana, the Ministry of Social Development had re-submitted its report the following day, while the education ministry’s was still due.

“The Ministry of Education repeated the same mistakes the officials apologised for when they submitted the first-quarter report.

This was unacceptable, and we had to ask them to do it again as our committee takes its oversight responsibility very seriously.

“A lot of vital information was missing, hence the decision to send the report back for re-working. There was a lot of missing information in the report and the same appliedto that of Social Development.”

The reports, it has since been established, were supposed to indicate the ministries’ activities, initial budgets and release of funds for the activities, amounts spent and balances and comments on each activity. It was this information that the Committee found to be inadequate in the reports.

Commenting on the ministry’s performance on activities funded by donors, Ramakeoana said: “We are politicians and we have been informed on countless occasions that the government prefers to use its own funds even when there is donor fundingsince our public servants fail to
account and funders are strict on accountability.”

Ramakeoana further said as a result of the negative attitude towards donor-funded projects, Lesotho is faced with challenges of dwindling donor funds.

A member of the Committee, Mathibeli Mokhothu said he was “shocked” with the Ministry of Social Development’s report.

“It’s shocking that such a flawed report can be brought to the Committee for review.

“For purposes of scrutiny, we should bring clean reports here as we are going to be reporting to Parliament what you have submitted to us,” Mokhothu said during last Thursday’s meeting which threw out the report.

Mokhothu warned the report did not reflect the true state of affairs in the ministry.

“We run the risk of misleading parliament if we are given and accept such false information,” he said.

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